#astudentsjourney: A Social Media Campaign for Black History Month

For Black History Month, I completed two social media campaigns! One was done for my role as Ad 2 DC’s Diversity and Inclusion Chair. Info about that campaign can be found here.

The other campaign was for a Studio client, a private Christian school, Kingdom Christian Academy. This campaign, A Student’s Journey, was inspired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture campaign: A People’s Journey.

For the school, I used the month of February to provide information on a Black student’s journey through education. From the creation of HBCU’s, to desegregation onto Black educators using new and inspiring ways of teaching.

The campaign was created with the Instagram platform in mind but still needed to be useful on Facebook. The great thing about Instagram and Facebook (I know peeps like to hate on Facebook, saying it’s for more uh…seasoned social media users but haters gon’ hate!) is that there’s no character limit. For Ad 2 DC, that campaign was made specifically for Twitter and while telling a story in 280 characters or less is rewarding, it’s also daunting.

So, with Instagram in mind, I designed the graphics using a puzzle layout. The puzzle layout is one of the hardest Instagram strategies to execute. Basically, it features a single image that’s split into multiple ones. After they’re split, each individual part is posted on Instagram to recreate its larger version. The downside to this layout is that ideally, each single image should be able to stand out on its own, after you split it. Otherwise, people who see the single post on their news feed won’t notice or pay attention to the image. Each image standing on its own merit was especially necessary for this campaign as Facebook’s timelines and profiles are not in a grid like Instagram.

I used Photoshop to setup the space that would eventually become the overall image on Instagram. Tip: Don’t make individual images and then try to puzzle them together. The secret is one cohesive image and then SLICE.

Here is the image as a whole puzzle:

BHM IG Collage.PNG

This image was eventually broken down into 12 individual images to be posted throughout the month of February. Each image can stand alone:

The copy for each image also adds to the fluid feeling of the overall puzzle, as you can see the social media calendar document I used to schedule the posts on Hootsuite.

Analytically, the campaign increased the discovery of the school’s Instagram profile. Impressions increased to over 1,000 and reach close to 600. The individual images received more likes and views than any of the previous posts on the account, with some being reposted and liked by major accounts.

#adding2bhm: A Social Media Campaign for Black History Month

This post was originally published on The Voice of AAF DC on February 1, 2019.

image1Beginning in 1926, first known as “Negro History Week,” Black History Month has been observed every February in Canada and the United States (October in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands). It began as a way to remember important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. From the event’s initial phase, the primary emphasis was placed on encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation’s public schools.

The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State University from February 1, 1970 until the end of the month. It would be six years later before President Gerald Ford nationally recognized Black History Month, sparking celebrations all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers.

MAD Black Men and Women

Much has been written about the men and women who shaped the field of advertising. However, the contributions of African-Americans to the advertising business have largely been omitted from these accounts.

The phrase “Mad men” was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue, where the explosive growth of advertising agencies happened. A number of trailblazing African-American men and women launched their careers during the Mad Men era and went on to have prominent, long-lasting careers. Starting in the mail-room and as secretaries, they worked their way through the ranks of major advertising agencies. They achieved the first managerial positions for African-American’s, created timeless advertisements that stuck in the minds of consumers, and even established successful agencies of their own.

Adding to Black History

#adding2bhmThe campaign, #adding2bhm, is a hashtag used to follow the stories of the African-American MAD men and women who pioneered the advertising industry. Throughout the month of February, AD 2 DC will be chronicling the stories of 8 industry mavens, in 280 characters or less, who have ‘added’ to Black History, changed the way we think of advertising, and continue to open doors through their steps and contributions.

The hashtag is derived from a larger campaign story, #adding2diversity that AD 2 DC uses to share content with industry news focused on diversity and inclusion. #adding2diversity is an ongoing campaign that members are encouraged to use past Black History Month.

Normalizing Disability in Advertising

This post was originally published on The Voice of AAF DC on December 3, 2018.

December 3 marks the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). This year’s themes are empowering people with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. But if you judged life by the world of advertising, you might conclude that disabled people are a societal rarity. So rare that advertisers feel the need to airbrush able-bodied models to look like amputees. Yes, that really happened.

The ethical responsibility of advertisers — especially during a paradigm shift that places the consumer at the center of media — is to provide content that fulfills the marketing agenda, without alienating, disrespecting, or deceiving any members of the intended or unintended audience. But we all know that every brand doesn’t deliver on that responsibility. Apart from when ads speak specifically about disability, disabled people are overwhelmingly absent from the narrative.

Breaking down barriers

Research conducted by the United Kingdom media agency UM discovered that while consumers wanted to see more people with disabilities in advertising, some 62% of respondents honestly admitted to feeling “uncomfortable” when they did see it. Also, 43% agreed that advertisers who showed people with disabilities risked making the ads “unappealing to people,” while 34% said that people with physical disabilities are “not attractive.” So how can advertisers go about breaking the taboo and being more representative?

The marketing and advertising industries have a chance to help break down social stigmas around disability by making it more visible. To change perceptions and promote progression, ads need to normalize disability — by plugging the rich, everyday lives that disabled people live beyond their disability.

Showing the world as it is

The under-representation of disabled people in advertising is largely due to the lack of diversity in creative roles. If more disabled people were employed as creative directors, copywriters, graphic designers, etc., we’d start to see a natural shift towards a more authentic portrayal.

Representing people with disabilities could be the final frontier in diversifying advertising, with more brands having already moved towards LGBTQ+ inclusion (Coca-Cola’s ‘Pool Boy’) and aiming at different types of families (multicultural and single dads, etc.).

Aside from being the right thing to do, diversity in ads has the potential to generate tangible benefits. Brands are undoubtedly leaving money on the table by not appealing to a wider range of audiences. Striking a chord with consumers is no longer about serving them images of perfection, since social media has helped to change how people view images. People with disabilities, as both recipients and agents of change, can fast-track the process towards truly inclusive advertising.